Wallabies end All Blacks' winning run with 18-all draw
Wallabies hold world champs to a 18-18 draw in final Bledisloe Cup test
Dan Carter narrowly missed a drop goal after the final siren as the Wallabies ended the All Blacks' winning run with a fighting 18-18 try-less draw in the final Bledisloe Cup test yesterday.
The World Cup champions were chasing their 17th consecutive victory but were held by a gritty Wallabies side, missing many of their leading stars through injury.
The Australians looked set to pull off an upset with a 15-6 lead, but the All Blacks fought back to lead 18-15 with nine minutes left.
Fullback Mike Harris levelled the scores minutes later with his fifth penalty to set up a gripping finale where both sides had chances to clinch the win.
Skipper Richie McCaw took a scrum from a penalty deep in New Zealand territory to go after the win and after driving upfield and setting up for a chance at the winning drop goal, Carter's attempt sailed just wide of the right post to leave the scores deadlocked.
New Zealand were bidding to join the 1969 All Blacks and 1998 South African Springboks with 17 successive victories, but were once again foiled by the Wallabies, who ended New Zealand's unbeaten 15-match run in a 26-24 win in Hong Kong in 2010. The second-ranked Wallabies were also the last side to beat the All Blacks (25-20) in Brisbane 14 months ago.
"That's probably the ugliest game of rugby I've been involved in but at the end of the day it's an 18-all draw and obviously they [Australia] are pretty happy about it," New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said.
"We're really disappointed. There were too many avoidable penalties, too many avoidable mistakes, some of those mistakes came from good play from Australia but others didn't."
Wallabies' coach Robbie Deans said Australia were frustrated not to have won.
"The players will be pretty frustrated because it was a game we could have won, so we're not happy with the outcome, but I imagine the All Blacks aren't either," Deans said.
"Our defence was great and we have done a lot of work around the contact and we got a lot of pay from that tonight."
Harris kicked all his four penalty goal attempts to give the under-strength Wallabies a 12-6 half-time advantage.
McCaw confessed that he might one day regret that his side had failed to match the record for successive test wins but he was most upset at their disappointing performance.
"It would have been nice down the track to have said you have been unbeaten for however long but the things that hurts, that you try and get right, is the performance getting better each week," he said.
"This week we wanted to go out and play well and beat the Wallabies and we didn't do that, that's what's most disappointing.
"I guess you'll reflect when we get home, unhappy that you didn't get it right, but that's how it goes and we just have to fix it up."
"I don't like using excuses, we should have been good enough to sort it out."